Report confirms Tester’s concerns about relocating ag disease research lab

Report indicates serious warnings over relocating facility to Kansas

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester today raised another warning flag following a new report about the safety of relocating the nation’s top agriculture disease research lab.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is currently relocating the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility from an isolated island off New York to Kansas.  The site of the new facility is within 200 miles of ten percent of all cattle in the nation.

Concerned by the move, Tester added language to last year’s Homeland Security Appropriations Act barring federal funding for the facility until the Department of Homeland Security conducted a safety analysis and emergency response plan in case of an accidental release of a contagious livestock disease, such as Foot-and-Mouth Disease.

As directed by law, the National Academies of Science today released an assessment of DHS’ plans.  The report:

  • Estimates the probability of a Foot-and-Mouth Disease outbreak from the proposed facility in Kansas at nearly 70 percent over the next 50 years. 
  • Finds that DHS’s original safety plan “is not entirely adequate or valid.”
  • Suggests that the cost of such an outbreak could well be higher than the Department of Homeland security’s original $9-50 billion estimate. 
  • Predicts that an outbreak of contagious livestock disease would spread across the nation within a matter of days.

Tester said that without proper safety and emergency plans in place, the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility in Kansas is a threat to Montana’s $1.5 billion-per-year livestock industry, and to livestock and poultry industries throughout rural America.

“Thank goodness we got a fresh look at DHS’s plans,” Tester said.  “This report tells us that there’s more homework to do and a long way to go before this facility is ready for prime time.  When it comes to being careful with our country’s agriculture industry and making good use of taxpayer dollars, DHS needs to do a better job of measuring twice and cutting once, not the other way around.”

Tester last year told his Senate colleagues that “we should not start doing this research on the U.S. mainland and in the middle of Tornado Alley without taking every possible precaution.”

The National Academies of Science’s report is available online at